Tuesday, July 19, 2022

an embarrassing miscalulation

Remember Reuben's dentist? We had found him a holistic dentist about an hour away from our home, to help him with his breathing issues. The short story is he can't breathe through his nose! He is a mouth breather, and there are all sorts of health issues associated with mouth breathing...and thus we found a dentist who claims he can help.

The dentist was closed for covid at our last appointment, a turn of events that I blogged about here. This time...it was still an hilarious and awkward adventure, but we DID make it to the appointment. Anyway, as I said the dentist is an hour away, but their main branch is 3.5 hours away near Washington DC. You only visit the main branch for the first appointment for scans, and this is how I drove over 7 hours in one day for a thirty minute appointment, getting stuck in rush hour traffic and enjoying tasty Indian food. 

Anyway. Our dentist is called Bronson Family Dentist. They are a perfect mesh of holistic dentist with mainstream. I love how they are a family dentistry (a father and his daughter and son run the practice together) and I like how they address the whole person. 

So, our dentist appointment is at 4:30 in Mclean, VA, about 7 miles from Washington DC. Three and a half hours from our home without traffic issues. The day of I left around 10am and drove an hour and a half to Charlottesville. We stopped at our favorite Indian restaurant and had delicious authentic Indian food which Reuben and I both love, along with mango drinks. YUM. Two hours left. We used the bathroom, I started an audiobook and we drove. I wanted to get there early to visit Tysons Mall and take Reuben to the lego store--and I am so glad we left early because it took an extra hour to get to Tysons due to traffic. I do not envy anyone their DC commute.

We visited the lego store (its amazing) got bubble tea and cinnamon pretzel bites, and then headed to the appointment. I am completely glossing over the fact that I lost my wallet in this store and was wondering how I was going to illegally drive home with no license or pay for his appointment for about 15 minutes before I realized I left my wallet in the car. Facepalm.

I am glad I left early for the appointment because I could not find the office. It turns out the office is in the bottom of a set of high rise apartments. It looks like apartments, not offices. Just the offices are on the ground floor (there were a ton of little offices of many businesses. I had to ask where to find Bronson Family Dentist squeezed in the corner on the left) But, small town me was confused. This type of set up does not exist where I live. Anyway, to find them I had to call them, but I was put on hold. So while I waited I frantically texted my friend Emily who also goes to this dentist and she helped me out! I got there 10 minutes early.

I thought it would be the office building on the right, but its
the apartments on the left!

I was immediately handed a bunch of paperwork. Now, I must mention that they sent all the files and everything they wanted to do for Reuben via an encrypted email. I could not open the email and told them this. They tried to resend the email and I still could not open it. This email included the pricing and all the information on the procedure for Reuben. I asked the receptionist the price and she informed me that the base price for scans, impressions and consultation was around $800, and that they expected a downpayment for the device as well that day. She didn't say how much the downpayment would be, but since I assumed it would be some type of payment plan I didn't think it would be much. Before I left I had checked with my husband and told him I assumed it wouldn't be more than 1k, but since I wasn't totally sure I budged 2k just to be safe and give myself wiggle room.

You can laugh with me later.

Anyway, I was the last patient of the day. The receptionist was kind but seemed tired (I would be too after a long day of work) and I am Chatty McChatterson so...I am sure I didn't help. Reuben and I were hot and tired from being in the car forever and I bemoaned our long 4ish hour drive only to have her tell me that people travel from all over the world to visit this dentist and that she and the three dentists who work in the office personally drive from DC to Charlottesville at least once a week. I then responded well, they probably don't have small children with them. To which she said actually Mrs Bronson and Mr. Bronson (brother and sister) both have kids. Mr. Bronson has three year old twins at home. And Mrs. Bronson regularly brings her 4 month old to the office since she is still breastfeeding.

I can't win, people. All I was looking for was some sympathy. Seriously! 

I didn't know what to say to all that, but luckily it was our turn so we went back, was told about The Plan to widen the top of Reuben's mouth. It sounds good! They told me it should take around two years and my heart was full of dreams of Reuben's breathing and snoring issues resolving and some other behavior issues that I think are linked to mouth breathing... I was so excited! We had a scan (you can see one of the many screens below) and the doctor pointed out that Reuben has one side of his nose almost completely full, and his adenoids and tonsils are huge. He recommended Reuben be put on a no sugar, gluten and dairy free diet. I don't know what to think about that yet--I am tabling that in the back of my mind to pick apart later. Reuben had impressions of his teeth taken for them to build the device with, and then we left to go check out. 

The wonderful receptionist (who previously had zero sympathy to give to our four hour drive) was on the phone as we waited to check out. I played three games of "can you stand on one food longer then mommy" and "how many times can you jump up and down" as quietly as possible while we waited to check out. Then we went to the bathroom because I didn't want to forget THAT step since we had a 3.5 hour drive back (hah it took almost 5 hours DC traffic is awful) and when we walked back I saw she had the number $4,285 on the little payment screen. I looked at it in confusion. That was the last persons payment, obviously. I sat there wondering what that person had done to their teeth to pay such an exorbitant amount as I waited for the receptionist to be finished with her phone call.

It was our payment.

At first I thought it was a joke. Then while I was trying not to have a panic attack I was trying to figure out how to pay. It turns out that the device for Reuben is around 6k. The 4,285 constituted a downpayment. I had no idea how much money we actually had in our HSA account, I had only asked my husband if it had at least 2k. How could I have said yes to a device that costs 6k without knowing it? Why was this not explained to me? What was I going to do? Also, by this point it was 5:20, twenty minutes after the dentist was supposed to close and there I was standing there in utter shock staring at the screen.

I stammered something crazy as she explained that the rest of the payment would be due at our next appointment when the device is installed. She must have seen my deer in the headlights look because she went though the prices step by step while I tried to breathe.

I handed her the HSA card and thankfully we DID have enough to cover that payment but I have never been more nervous in my life! WHAT a miscommunication! I should have asked how much the device was or she should have told me! I guess since this dentist does this sort of thing all the time they must think people know?! Or maybe in DC dropping 4k on dentistry is normal??! She knew I had missed all the emails! 

I left trying not to cry and wondering how we are going to pay the reminder of the payment in six weeks at our next appointment. I had planned to use the leftover money if it was less then 2k to get myself new glasses since it has been 2 years since my last eye appointment. Well, that wasn't going to happen. I didn't even know if we had enough money in the HSA account for me to go to the chiropractor. 

Well. I loaded Reuben into the car and had to call my husband and tell him I just spent $4,285. I thought he would be mad, but he actually handled it far better than I did. He reminded me that if this works and Reuben can breathe it will be so worth it, and he's right! I was just having a lot of sticker shock and anxiety. What a crazy surprise. 

Then we drove home. I will spare you that rendition.

Luckily, we put the max amount allowed in our HSA account so we should have enough to cover the last payment at the next appointment. I checked this morning as soon as I woke up. And we have enough to go to the chiropractor at least one more time.

I have learned my lesson to ask more detailed questions.

I cannot believe it was that expensive. 

I think I am still in shock. 

And now it is Tuesday and somehow I am supposed to resume normalcy! 

Oh, they said if Reuben breaks his device it is around 2k to get him a new one.

He's seven. And he inherited his mothers clumsiness. 

Also there is absolutely no way we can afford any replacements.

Pray! I know I will be.

What a crazy day.

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